EuNIC-Europe: European Information Center for Culture

Culture in Norway

Norway is a northern European nation located on the Scandinavian peninsula. While it has only been an independent nation since the early 20th century, Norway has a long and distinguished history and distinctive culture that has been influenced by its Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark and Sweden in particular. With strong egalitarian ideals expressed through a wide-ranging publicly funded welfare system and education system, through gender equality and multiculturalism, Norwegian society is a progressive, liberal one.

The Lutheran Church of Norway is the established church in Norway with around 98% of the population registered as members but with only around 2% attending church regularly. There are large Catholic and Muslim populations in Norway, which has a reputation as a welcoming and tolerant society

National identity strongly expressed

Having been ruled at various points over a millennia by Denmark and Sweden, Norwegian culture and national identity is strongly expressed through national dress, language, song and literature. As an oil-rich nation, Norway has carved out an international niche as a peacemaking and facilitating nation, expressed her egalitarian ideals in practical ways; for example, in the Nobel Peace Prize, established in the name of the scientist Alfred Nobel and chosen by a Norwegian panels of judges in Oslo.

A vibrant cultural scene

Norwegians are intensely proud of their varied cultural scene, one that is financed to a large extent by the government. The long-standing tradition of art and literature that defines Norwegian culture does, however, long outdate any state backing. Writers such as Ibsen are considered among the finest ever while Norwegian authors have pioneered a sort of Scandinavian realism in recent decades. Edvard Grieg combined classical music with the Norwegian folk tradition to international acclaim, an accolade also awarded to the modern Norwegian jazz scene. In art, Edvard Munch pioneered the Expressionist movement and his painting “The Scream” is one of the world’s most recognised works of art.

Rich in resources

Norway has a long tradition as a seafaring nation and her cuisine is strongly based on the catches from the ocean. The food culture of Norway is best seen in salmon, herring and trout.